31 March 2009

Language Usage with Whom

In my previous blog (23 March), I discussed a ranking of the best languages of 40 Malay first-year undergraduates at UBD. Here I will show the results for the language they claim to use with their grandparents, their parents, and their siblings.

In answering these questions, the students were asked to indicate which language they generally use with each person, but they were encouraged to show more than one language if they usually mix or switch with each person. The results are shown here, with BM indicating Brunei Malay, SM = Standard Malay, and E = English.

This gives some kind of indication of how language usage is changing over time. Note that Brunei Malay is used by nearly everyone with their grandparents, but there is a little more usage of English with parents and also with siblings.

The summary shown in the table does not indicate whether there is mixing or different languages are used with different people. For example, BM/E might indicate that the respondents speak one language with one parent and another language with the other parent, or they might mix languages with both. In fact, in all the responses, only one person indicated use of English without mixing with anyone: she claimed to use English most of the time with her maternal grandparents and her father. All other instances of English involved mixing.

This usage table confirms that Brunei Malay is firmly established in Brunei, that although English is used a little more among younger people, there is no danger (yet) of it supplanting Brunei Malay as the home language, and that very few people use Standard Malay at home.